I am gearing up to release my third novella in the Harrington House Party “Last Chance” series!
Not only have I now made the first two Harrington House Party novellas free for download at lulu.com/anneglover, but to further whet your appetite, I am now releasing exclusively to loyal Regency Readers a sneak peek of Last Chance for Romance…
So enjoy a bit of Sophia’s story and be prepared for the release scheduled in a few weeks…
Sophia Rumley charged through the ballroom like a whirlwind attached to a fire. Fast and hot.
And potentially lethal.
Her anger was thinly veiled. More than likely she was causing a scene.
She didn’t care.
Her brother was going to get it.
And by it, she intended to first box his ears and then second bludgeon him with the nearest heavy object.
Which more than likely would be her tongue. And he would deserve every excruciating lash she gave him.
Arabella Donleigh had announced to the whole left side of the ballroom that Mr. Rumley was living up to his name. In his cups and already pockets to let if her stories were to be believed.
He was a profligate gambler, drinker, de-baucher and an all around embarrassment to Sophia. More importantly, he had ruined, absolutely ruined, her chances for a good match.
Truthfully, it wasn’t really Arabella’s snide announcement that had her tearing through the crush. It could be borne. It often was. Very rarely did they attend any occasion without Mr. Rumley creating a spectacle of himself in some fashion or another.
But this was beyond the pale.
Or at least, what she had heard before Arabella’s proclaimation was.
Sophia pushed past the cloud of smoke and angry protests as she stormed into the gentlemen’s parlor. One gentlemen tried to stand in his chair, but too drunk, collapsed back into it. Another knocked over his drink while banging noisily on the table for the footman.
Sophia barely registered their demonstration over her presence. She was too focused on the hunt for that wretch she knew as Chester.
Finally locating her brother, she boxed his ear and then forcefully dragged him towards the door to the hall. It was no easy task in full evening regalia, but anger alone gave her the strength of ten men. Her brother complained the whole way, but in a sloppy drunken way which offered little resistance. In the hallway, she pushed him towards the front door and out into the drive. The gravel gave a satisfying crunch as Chester scrabbled from the stairs to find his footing.
“You did what?” Sophia demanded, punctuating each syllable with a jab to her brother’s chest.
“What ho, Soph.” He cried weakly, wobbling on his own feet.
“You’re foxed,” she pronounced with disgust, “and probably down at the tables as well. What a disgrace you are, Chester Rumley.”
Sophia shook her head, and then narrowed her eyes again.
“You have really done it now, Chester!”
“What, what?” He spluttered. Sophia would have liked very much to slap him at that moment. He was a buffoon enough when sober, but monstrously so when indisguised.
“Mr. Franklin told me.”
Chester’s head snapped up from drooping, his eyes wild and glazed. Obviously, he knew to what she referred to.
“Soph, I can explain…”
“Explain how you ruined my chances at a happy marriage? Again. Explain how I am now the laughingstock of the entire ton? Again. Explain how I will never get another offer again?” Sophia’s voice was menancingly low, a hiss more frightening than a shout. It briefly scared even her. She was frankly surprised sparks didn’t fly from her own mouth.
Sophia guessed that is what her Papa meant when he said she was sharp tongued. It was definitely the heaviest object within sight.
“Soph, I had to! It was a matter of honor!” Chester’s lips formed quick and sloppy explanation. “We were all at Whites and someone was asking if you had brought Franklin up to scratch yet, and I said any day, and then bloody Harrington had to challenge me to the wager.”
“Harrington?” Sophia echoed, before refocusing. It would be just like her slippery cad of a brother to redirect her attention. Not this time. “Lord Galloway heard about your little wager and thought it unseemly!” Sophia cried, “He told Franklin that he didn’t want to be tied to such a royster and that blood will tell!” Sophia couldn’t keep her voice above a roar this time, “He meant our blood will tell! Mine!” She jabbed him again in the chest, hard. “My blood, Chester.”
She calmed down after a second of heavy breathing. Blasted corset. Sophia had long ago discovered the joy of cursing in her head, and did so another few times.
“Franklin broke the engagement this evening, saying his father would never countenance the match, and likely cut him off without a ha’penny.”
“Harrington challenged me,” Chester mum-bled feebly. “’Pon rep’, Soph, I had to do defend your honor.” Chester’s whinge was almost unbearable.
Sophia snorted and then granted her brother one last look of revulsion. “Perhaps you should attend to your own honor for once, Chester.”
With a silence that sounded louder than a slap, Sophia spun on her heel and flounced back into the house to order the carriage and cry off to her mother with a headache.
Later, alone in the quiet of her bedroom, Sophia sat brushing her hair in front of the fire.
Funnily enough, the ill feeling that had accompanied Franklin’s gentle rejection was washed away with a good, hot bath. She didn’t really love him, only wanted to have this whole marriage mart business behind her. And truthfully, she wanted to escape the ever present dark shadow cast by her brother. Guilt by association, the very definition of.
Sophia, in her second Season, had already run through most of the eligibles. They had all skirted by her for one reason or another. Mostly because Chester was known to have vowels all over Town, and therefore promised to be a liability once Rumley finally cut him off.
It also didn’t help that her father was a mere Sir, her mother the daughter of a curate, earning them the sometimes deserved reputation as mushrooms and toads. Or the beloved combination of the two.
Sophia had hope to rise to the ranks, but it seemed like Franklin would be her last hope. She had even been willing to stare at his balding head and paunchy stomach for the chance to escape her less than illustrious reputation.
Based on Debrett’s, it looked like now she would have to focus on the over fifty set.
It would be so much easier if she could simply call her brother out.
Then again, he had said he was defending her honor which in some small way was to his credit.
Who was this Harrington who, without even knowing her, would besmirch her name and ruin her chances by placing that infamous bet in the books at Whites?
Sophia’s eyes opened, her eyelids snapping themselves away from the trance that the firelight had lulled them into.
Yes, Harrington was the real culprit.
And, Sophia decided, he needed to be taught a lesson.